According to researchers at the University of South Hampton in the United Kingdom, using alcohol to quell a hangover promotes alcohol dependence, affects the brain and should not be a go-to remedy.
The study, led by Lindy Holden-Dye, a neuroscientist at the University of South Hampton's School of Biological Sciences, published her team's findings in PLoS One, a peer-reviewed science journal, on May 3.
The researchers analyzed the alcohol dependence and withdrawal patterns of Caenorhabditis elegans, one-millimeter long worms, as it is oddly akin to humans. Holden-Dye explained, "This research showed the worms displaying effects of the withdrawal of alcohol and enables us to define how alcohol affects signalling in nerve circuits which leads to changes in behaviour."
Although humans are not exactly worms and it is not possible to replicate "complex aspects of human alcohol addiction such as motivation, craving and cue-dependent relapse, it can provide a reductionist correlate of ethanol-induced neural plasticity which underpins negative reinforcement and therefore contributes to alcohol addiction," thus showing "that neuropeptide signalling has a pivotal role in ethanol withdrawal."
"Neuropeptides are also involved in chronic alcohol effects in humans and this is leading to new ideas for the treatment of alcoholism, but their precise role is unclear. Our study provides a very effective experimental system to tackle this problem."
Until more research is conducted the next time you are feeling hungover it might be best to stay clear from the "hair of the dog" that bit you.
Full study, "A Differential Role for Neuropeptides in Acute and Chronic Adaptive Responses to Alcohol: Behavioural and Genetic Analysis in Caenorhabditis elegans": http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0010422